It comes despite Interior Minister Horst Seehofer once again rejecting calls for a study into police racism.
In the latest in a series of incidents involving police in Germany, 29 officers were suspended in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia last week for sharing far-right images on WhatsApp.
Investigators found at least five private WhatsApp chat groups that contained well over 100 neo-Nazi images, including photos of Hitler and a fictional depiction of a refugee in a gas chamber.
Seehofer described the incident as a “punch in the gut” but insisted that the overwhelming majority of German police officers believed in the principles of the German constitution.
Now a new poll by Spiegel has found the population sees things differently.
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Almost 55 percent of Germans consider a study on racism within the police force necessary, according to the survey by the opinion research institute Civey on behalf of Spiegel.
Between September 18th and 21st, more than 5,000 people gave their opinion on whether they consider it necessary for the federal government to commission a study on racism within the police. Around 39 percent of those questioned answered the question with “no, absolutely not” or “probably not”.
In almost all age groups the majority are in favour of an investigation into this issue. The most supporters come from the group of over 65s and 18 to 29 year olds. In the over 65s group, around 60 percent of respondents are in favour of it, while in the younger age group, over 58 percent want a probe to go ahead.
The age groups between 40 and 49 and between 50 and 64 are also close together in their stance. In both cases, more than 54 percent consider an investigation into racism within the police force necessary.
But the figures are comparatively low among 30 to 39 year olds. In this group only about 45 percent answered 'yes' to the question whether they consider an investigation necessary.
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Supporters of political parties divided
There are clear differences between supporters of political parties. About 80 percent of centre-left Social Democrat supporters consider a racism probe in the police to be needed. Among supporters of the Greens and the Left Party (Die Linke), the figure is even higher, at over 80 percent.
Only about a third of pro-business Free Democrats supporters, on the other hand, want this kind of study. And only about five percent of Alternative for Germany (AfD) supporters consider a probe on racism in the police force necessary.
The decision about the study would have to be made by Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrat/Christian Social Union-led Interior Ministry. So far, however, Interior Minister Seehofer, of the Bavarian CSU (the sister party of CDU), rejects this idea.
Instead he wants a broader approach “for the whole society”. This does not necessarily reflect the opinion of CDU/CSU supporters, though. They are divided on the question whether a racism study is needed in Germany. Some 46 percent answered “yes” to the question, about 47 percent said “no” and about seven percent are undecided.
Majority of Germans/the population – Mehrheit der Deutschen/Bevölkerung
Racism in the police (force) – Rassismus in der Polizei
Necessary – notwendig
Undecided – unentschieden
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